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A true story…

We’ve just arrived in Phoenix for a family vacation, and I reserved a rental car, along with a booster seat. I did not need to reserve a convertible seat for my younger daughter, since we were bringing our Radian on the plane. When I reserved the booster seat, I asked the agent to please ask the local office to call me in advance if they wouldn’t have a seat available for me to rent. No one called.

Can you see where this is going?

We picked up our rental car. No booster. The Hertz agent told us they were “sold out” of booster seats. Sorry. At the time, I didn’t know the law in Arizona, but regardless, I wasn’t leaving the airport without my older daughter (who is just shy of her 5th birthday and barely 40 lbs.) properly restrained in a seat. When the agent realized that I was seriously not going anywhere until they found a booster seat, the most unbelievable thing happened:

He gave me a pitying look and said, “Have you ever seen a booster seat, miss? It’s only, like, an extra two inches of padding. You don’t really need it.” I introduced him to my husband, a certified car seat installation technician, and asked him to repeat what he’d just told me. Needless to say, we had a booster seat in our car within the next 5 minutes.

As it turns out, the law in Arizona states that every child under the age of 5 must be properly restrained in a car seat or booster seat. So not only would I have been putting my child in danger by skipping the “extra inch or two of padding”, I would also have been criminally negligent in doing so. I’m glad I knew better, but if this agent had been talking to someone who doesn’t eat, sleep and breathe baby gear, the outcome would likely have been different.

I don’t usually get all worked up about stuff like this, but this whole episode really made me angry. Am I overreacting?

14 comments

  1. You are not overeacting, car seats/booster issues really anger me, so much misinformation and ignorance out there, I would have been LIVID!!!!

    Stephanie

  2. The question is, why didn’t the CAR RENTAL AGENT know the law??!??!?! That seems like an issue for Hertz corporate to address.

  3. Nope. Not overacting…
    But on the upside welcome to Phoenix! Great time of year to be here. Enjoy!

  4. Since I will be renting a car in Phoenix very soon you can bet it won’t be at Hertz!

  5. Yikes! I never knew that this could happen from a company like that…thank you for sharing for sure!

  6. Absolutely not! Make certain that you forward this post to the CEO of Hertz, and cc someone in customer relations at the corporate office, and a final copy to the manager of the Phoenix office (showing all cc’s of course).

  7. That has happened to us as well, which is why I always bring along our seats, and just gate check. I’d never trust these jokers to actually call and tell me they do/don’t have a seat for me. They just don’t care!!! I wonder how he ”magically” found a car seat for you?

  8. That is ridiculous! You certainly are not overreacting — and I’m surprised that the rental company would encourage you to do without a booster.

    (love your blog, by the way! I’ve been reading for a while, but this is my first time posting.)

  9. We had a similar exerience after reserving a toddler seat. They tried to get us to put a 2-year old in a rear facing infant seat! We refused until they got us a van with a child seat built in. They people are renting cars, shouldn’t it be part of their job training to know how to adequatley secure children in the seats? Especially if it’s the law, not to mention the resered ahead of time part!

  10. Nope. Definitely not over reacting. Children between the ages of four and eight are most likely to be injured or killed in car accidents. This is because this is the most neglected age group when it comes to child restraint usage: too big for a carseat, too small for an adult seat belt. Booster seats save lives and prevent serious injuries.

  11. We had a similar incident, and bringing along our own seats didn’t help in this case. We arrived at the airport and somehow our car seats had not made it on the plane. Sorry. We’ll deliver them to you in 2 to 3 days.

    No way was that answer going to work, to which they decided to give us seats they had behind the counter. Who’s seats were those? They were the wrong sizes and they were outdated. Again, no way was that going to work. Luckily (luckily?) our seats were on the next flight which arrived about an hour and a half later.

  12. I’m hesitant about renting any type of seat (age, condition, how it’s been used), but in this case, it’s more concerning to me that the older child wasn’t using the Radian and the younger one could have used a cosco Scenera if you didn’t want to take two heavy seats.

    She really should be harnessed and your husband, as a tech, should know both t is, and the danger of renting carseats of unknown history. (AND… if it was a backless, the min. weight is 40lbs.)

  13. It’s interesting. I’ve rented car seats from reputable rental car agencies in the past and had no problem. From a convenience perspective, on top of all the other things you need to bring along when traveling with two kids, it’s a lot easier to have one less (large, heavy, bulky) thing to carry. And I’m a big advocate for simplifying life for parents, but not at the expense of a child’s safety. After this, I’ll bring my car seats along.

    Kat, I also do appreciate your concerns. My kids get to test out many different kinds of car seats. It’s a big part of how we get to be well-informed about all the products we sell. My daughter is squarely inside the physical requirements to use a high-back booster. Still, I completely agree with you, a 5-point harness is the ideal scenario for any small child.

    Between our day-to-day interactions with car seats and car seat engineers and manufacturers and my husband’s significant training, I trust our ability to evaluate for our own children what is (or isn’t) a safe restraint. Certainly not every parent has access to all the same resources we do, and it would be easy to misunderstand or misinterpret the decisions we make without knowing the basis for them, so I guess this is a case of “do as I say, not as I do.” Thanks for pointing this out.

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